<p>Celebrated pianist and avant-garde composer Harold Budd was one of the pioneers of the ambient music movement since the early seventies. His trademark "soft pedal" style of improvisational pi...
<p>Celebrated pianist and avant-garde composer Harold Budd was one of the pioneers of the ambient music movement since the early seventies. His trademark "soft pedal" style of improvisational piano playing created haunting, meditative scores and found international recognition upon the 1978 release of <i>The Pavilion of Dreams</i>, produced by the forefather of ambient music, Brian Eno. After his transition from composer to performer, Budd cemented his reputation in music history, defining and challenging a genre for the next 30 years. </p><p>Harold Budd was born on May 24, 1936 in Los Angeles, California. When he was 14, his father passed away and the family packed up and moved to the remote town of Victorville in the Mojave Desert. Frustrated with school and his stifling surroundings, Budd turned to music and became enamored with the music of Stan Getz, bebop and jazz. At 15, he took up the jazz drums, playing with local bands and decided to get a proper musical education by later enrolling at the Los Angeles Community College when he was 21. It was there one of his teachers recognized his talents and encouraged him to compose. After he was drafted into the army in 1961, Budd kept up his musical efforts, playing drums and conducting the army band. After his discharge from the military, he enrolled at the University of Southern California (USC) to study music again. During his tenure at school, Budd fell under the spell of John Cage, who was giving a guest lecture and performing at the university. He experimented with increasingly minimalist compositions until he hit a wall creatively. </p><p>At the time, Budd had completed his degree and began teaching harmony at The California Institute of the Arts. After hearing a cringe-inducing performance of his composition "Madrigals of the Rose Angel" for a university festival, he decided to only way to ensure creative control was to play and arrange his own work. At the age of 36, Budd taught himself how to play the piano and discovered a new medium in which to fully express himself. As luck would have it, a tape of "Madrigals" fell into the hands of legendary English producer and artist Brian Eno who offered Budd the chance to record it along with other pieces for his Obscure Records label. Eno produced <i>The Pavilion of Dreams</i> in 1978, opening up a whole new international audience for Budd's music. At 42, he had been toiling away in the avant-garde school for over a decade until his debut with Eno resuscitated his career and granted him a whole new audience. </p><p>Budd's dream-like and impressionist compositions washed up on London's shores just as the frenzied aftermath of punk music was dwindling down. His arrival in the U.K marked not only a fateful partnership with Eno, but also a love affair with the country itself, which welcomed his music in a way America never fully did. Under Eno's wing, the two recorded the landmark ambient albums, <i>The Plateau of Mirrors</i> (1980) and <i>The Pearl</i> (1984). Budd relocated to London and lived in England from 1986 to 1991, until a second marriage brought him home to Los Angeles. While he never self-identified as an ambient musician or even as a pianist in the traditional sense, his intimate and melancholic music carved out a place for itself among the genre labels of the industry. </p><p>Over the next 30 years, Budd would go on to release around 30 albums: some solo, some live and some improvised. His career also flourished with a number of unusual collaborations including <i>The Moon and the Melodies</i> with Scottish dream pop outfit Cocteau Twins in 1986 and a 1994 album, <i>Through the Hill</i>, with Andy Partridge from the post-punk band, XTC. In 1991, Budd started to introduce spoken poetry into his music, still considering art and poetry to be his first loves above music. </p><p>With its inherent dramatic undertones, it was only natural that Budd's music was sought after to score films. He reunited with Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie to compose the original score for queer film auteur Gregg Araki's movie "Mysterious Skin" (2004) starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A year later, he announced hastily that his double-album "Avalon Sutra"(2005) would be his last. Having reached a low point in his life and living as a recluse in the desert, Budd awoke from his self-induced hiatus and continued to make music again, releasing collaborative records with Guthrie and ambient musician Clive Wright. In 2013, an anthology of his records was released in 2013 by All Saints Records, titled <i>BUDDBOX</i>. While Budd never reached the same level of fame and influence as Eno did in popular culture, his work remained an integral part of the ambient musical canon. </p>
Los Angeles Community College
University of Southern California
"I had to get out of America to get a professional life going where I could actually make a living."
Writes poetry and paints.
Played with avant-garde jazz musician Albert Ayler while serving in the Army.
"When it comes to the use of the studio, I learned everything from Eno."
He taught himself how to play the piano when he was in his late 30s.